From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Albert Bailey, Jr. '61

Date of birth: September 1, 1939

Date of death: August 24, 1978

Age: 38

Lucky Bag

From the 1961 Lucky Bag:


Skip was lost when his US-2B Tracker aircraft crashed short of NAS Weymouth, Massachusetts, on August 24, 1978. He was pulled from the wreckage but died a short time later. The other crewman was also killed.

The "JAGMAN" report noted Albert had not flown in "nearly five years". Nevertheless, on the same page it was noted "both pilots knew the US-2B aircraft well."

Portions of the JAGMAN investigation are posted; the commentary is that of the poster:

On August 24, 1978, US-2B 176 was fueled with 500 gallons of AVGAS and prepared for a local training flight (FAM-2 profile which consists of an introduction of normal landing procedures and a review of all items demonstrated during the initial FAM-1 area check out and demonstration of flight characteristics flight).

LCDR Mariott was listed as the instructor pilot and CDR Bailey was listed as pilot under instruction. CDR Baily had flown this aircraft the previous day for 1.2 hours. It was his first flight in an S-2 type aircraft since 1973 and he was being re-qualified in the aircraft by LCDR Mariott. Although not having flown the Tracker in recent years, CDR Bailey was an experienced Naval Aviator with 3,679 total flight hours, of which 3,519 were in S-2 type aircraft. LCDR Mariott had a total of 2,178 flight hours of which 324 hours were in S-2 type aircraft.

Tracker 176 took off from NAS South Weymouth at 0937, under partly cloudy skies. Immediately after departure, 176 informed the tower that they had lost a generator and wished to make an immediate landing. Shortly thereafter, they radioed that the generator had come back on line. 176 then departed the local area, heading east over the ocean towards Cape Cod.

The next communication with the tower was at 1041 when 176 declared an emergency with an illuminated magnetic chip detector light. The chip detector is used to notify the flight crew in the event that metal particles are detected within the engine oil sump. Presence of these particles is often indicative of engine damage. Shortly afterwards, the pilot indicated that they were "two thirds of the way up the Cape", south of Provincetown, MA.

At 1044, 176 radioed that the port engine had a "chip detector light with accompanying high oil temperature" and they decided to "keep it on the line and keep an eye on it".

Item 91 of the report's "Finding of Facts" stated that the decision to keep the port engine "on the line and keep and eye on it" instead of immediately feathering the corresponding engine upon secondary indication of an abnormal engine (high oil temperature) was in violation of prescribed Naval Air Training Operating Procedure Standardization program (NATOPS)procedures. NATOPS is sort of the "bible" for operation of a naval aircraft / helo. Pilots are trained to follow the NATOPS procedures to the letter.

At 1052 176 reported they were over Plymouth harbor, with their port engine running rough, smoking and partially in the feathered position. Time elapsed from the first reported indication of an abnormal engine to attempt to feather was approximately 12 minutes. Eyewitnesses on the ground noted the port propeller to be slowly turning (a properly feathered propeller would be motionless, since it's blades are parallel to the airstream). This undoubtedly added a significant amount of drag (and strain on the one functional engine).

During this time, an SH-3A Sea King helicopter on a routine post-maintenance check flight diverted south to assist. At 1055, 176 reported going "feet dry" over Plymouth, MA. Shortly afterwards, SH-3A NW443 joined the Tracker in formation and reported that it was trailing smoke.

At 1055, US-2B Tracker 176 was returning to NAS South Weymouth, MA with a failed port (left) engine. To make matters worse, the engine's propeller failed to fully feather, adding a significant amount of drag to the now single-engined aircraft. The Tracker was followed in close formation by an SH-3A Sea King helicopter. The stricken Tracker was now over Plymouth, MA, approximately 25 miles from it's base. It's altitude was approximately 1,000' but the SH-3A crew noted that it appeared to be decreasing at a steady rate.

At 1056, the SH-3A radioed the Tracker crew that it was trailing smoke. However, the Tracker crew was not informed that the yellow-ish brown smoke was actually coming from the functioning starboard (right) engine until over two minutes later. At 1101, the Tracker crew noted that they now had an illuminated starboard engine chip detector light. The time between the known engine commencing to malfunction (starboard engine) and the illumination of the chip detector light was 4 minutes, 16 seconds.

At 1101, the NAS South Weymouth control tower informed the Tracker that they were in sight. At 1102, the flight crew notified the tower that if their landing gear would not extend, the were going to land regardless.

27 seconds later, 176 radioed the tower - "we may have to ditch it" and asked them to stand-by.

At 1102:31, 176 made a final call to the tower, indicating that both engines had quit and they were going to "take it in".

At nearly the same time, the accompanying SH-3A informed the tower that 176 was attempting to land in a field, 4 miles southeast of the base.

15 seconds later, the SH-3A radioed "Crash-Crash-Crash" and informed the tower that the Tracker was down and burning.

The SH-3A crew reported that the Tracker appeared to be in position to crash land on the field (which was a baseball field complex) but then overflew the field and crashed into the woods immediately beyond it. The SH-3A immediately landed nearby and the co-pilot and a third crew-member ran to the crash site to assist. Despite their efforts and those of local residents and firefighters, one pilot was killed instantly, while the other pilot was removed from the wreckage but died a short time later.

From the reports of local residents who witnessed the crash, it appeared that the Tracker crew deliberately overflew the ball fields and went down in the woods. Aside from the area of woods where the aircraft went down, the rest of the immediate vicinity is heavily populated with single family homes and a large apartment complex.

Other Information

From researcher Kathy Franz:

Graduated in 1957 from Lawrence Academy in Groton, Massachusetts. Activities: Student Council; Elms 2, 4; Cum Laude 3, 4; Glee Club 3, 4, Autumn Frolic 2, 3, 4; Debating 3, 4; Football J. V. 1, 2; V 3, 4; Basketball J. V. 1, 2, 3, V 4; Baseball 1, 2, 3, 4; Debating Prize 3; Citizenship Award 3. He wrote a note to the yearbook owner and signed his name Skip (“The Hayseed.”) In the Last Will, he left his skis and dog sled to the next boy to venture here from that great northern wilderness, North Weare, New Hampshire.

In May 1970, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Air Reserve at NAS South Weymouth, Massachusetts. He was a member of Air Anti-Submarine Warfare Squadron VS-72 at the station and joined the “Weekend Warrior” squadron.

Survived by his wife, three sons, and parents Albert and Ruth.

He is buried in New Hampshire.

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Memorial Hall Error

Albert's service is given as USNR in all mentions of his loss; he is also listed as a member in the 1975 USNR Officer Register. Memorial Hall has USN.

Class of 1961

Albert is one of 23 members of the Class of 1961 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.